Hong Kong reopens government offices but protesters blockade some buildings

Hong Kong's government headquarters were shut on June 21, 2019 as hundreds of people gathered and clogged up nearby roads.
Hong Kong's government headquarters were shut on June 21, 2019 as hundreds of people gathered and clogged up nearby roads.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, AFP) - Hong Kong reopened its downtown government offices on Monday (June 24) but protesters held some demonstrations to demand the release of people arrested in recent rallies and establish an independent investigation into the use of force by police.

On Monday afternoon (June 24),  around 100 mostly young protesters blocked the entrance of a tower block containing the city’s tax department, turning away employees and members of the public. After a three-hour blockade there, the protesters turned to the nearby Immigration Tower to continue the demonstration, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Friday they had blockaded the city’s police headquarters for 15 hours, and have also targeted government ministries. 

Historic protests in the past few weeks, including several that turned violent, prompted Chief Executive Carrie Lam to suspend a controversial Bill that would allow extraditions to China.

Protesters have since called for the legislation's complete withdrawal and for Mrs Lam to resign. The events have embarrassed the central government in Beijing, which continues to back Mrs Lam's administration.

The city's Central Government Offices reopened after the rallies last Friday shifted focus to other government agencies and the Hong Kong Police Force. Last Friday, Mrs Lam shut the headquarters as hundreds of people gathered and clogged up nearby roads. Hundreds of people then walked to the police headquarters in the Wan Chai area, demanding that the authorities drop charges against demonstrators over clashes with law enforcement earlier this month. Hundreds remained on the streets outside the government headquarters last Friday night. Some threw eggs at the building.

Security chief John Lee has defended his personnel, saying they acted in defence against protesters who charged a police line blocking the city's legislature in an attempt to storm the building.

The Civil Human Rights Front, which organised this month's historic demonstrations, separately called for a "G-20 Free Hong Kong" rally on Wednesday, ahead of the Group of 20 Summit in Japan later this week.

 

But China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun said on Monday that China will not allow the G-20 to discuss the Hong Kong issue at its upcoming summit. 

Hong Kong matters are an internal affair for China, Mr Zhang said at a briefing in Beijing.

Mrs Lam's problems could be helped by a withdrawal of the extradition Bill and talks with protesters, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday, citing Ms Starry Lee, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - the city's largest pro-Beijing party.

Ms Lee also cautioned that demands for an independent inquiry into police tactics during protests could "easily come up with biased conclusions", the SCMP quoted her as saying.